Domino players by a sidestreet in Trinidad Cuba | Adrian Seah

The old cobbled street was proving a bit of a challenge in the dim light, the scattered street lamps casting strange shadows on the peeling colonial era buildings lining either side of the road. Our footsteps were unsure and the uneven ground, still slightly slick with the brief rain that had fallen in the evening, was slippery, hiding puddles of water in the darkness. The sounds of salsa music wafted through the warm, humid night, somewhere round the corner, there must have been a bar with a live band, I could imagine mojitos being downed by the gallon and sweaty, writhing bodies dancing away on a makeshift dance floor. It was Friday night afterall. Just ahead, a group of men huddled round a table, with an occasional excited exclamation or a disappointed groan. They were in the middle of a game of dominos, played on a small wooden table set out by the side of the road. Clearly it was too hot indoors, and life is lived out in the streets in Cuba anyway. The man in the cowboy hat, undoubtedly the alpha male of the group, was obviously playing a bad hand and not liking how the game is going. Taking deep puffs of his cigarette, he looked with a certain amount of disdain at his tiles. He noticed us approaching, our ungainly hobbling on the cobbles must have marked us out as out-of-towners. „¡Ven Ven!“ (Come! Come!) he motioned us to his seat and the table, perhaps it was an act of friendship, or perhaps it allowed him a graceful exit from certain defeat, or possibly a combination of both, in any case, an invitation had been extended to join our newfound amigos in their game of dominos. Round the corner, the music had changed to a different beat, the band were playing a cover of ‚Chan Chan‘ by the Buena Vista Social Club. The vocals didn’t quite have the exuberance and soul of Ibrahim Ferrer but it was a decent attempt nonetheless. On the old cobbled streets of Trinidad, it was just another Friday night…..

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